EditorsNote: Edit 1: Fixes throughout
No. 18 Kentucky evened its Southeastern Conference record with an 85-74 victory over Texas A&M in Lexington, Ky., on Tuesday night.
It was Kentucky’s 12th straight home win, and it gives the Wildcats (11-3, 1-1 SEC) a 48-12 record in “bounce-back” games after a loss during John Calipari’s 10 seasons.
The victory also drew Calipari within 11 victories of tying 1978 NCAA champion coach Joe B. Hall with 297 wins as Kentucky’s coach. The school’s all-time win total is 875 by Adolph Rupp.
After falling behind 10-0, the Wildcats roared back to lead by 12 at halftime.
The Aggies (6-7, 0-2) hung close however, pulling within 66-64 with 7:55 remaining when Jay Jay Chandler converted a three-point play. But Immanuel Quickley drained a step-back 3-pointer, Tyler Herro hit another trey, and Ashton Hagans scored on a drive to push the lead back to eight with 3:43 remaining in the game.
Kentucky, which had not played in Rupp Arena since Dec. 15, needed a lift from reserves EJ Montgomery and Nick Richards to recover from its cold start. With the Wildcats down 10-0, Richards and Montgomery combined for nine points to lead Kentucky to a 17-16 lead with 10:45 to play in the first half.
Seven straight points by Herro, followed by a 3-pointer from Quickley, put the Wildcats up by nine.
Then Hagans was fouled after coming up with a steal, and officials had to separate both teams after some pushing and shoving. Kentucky ended up with four straight free throws by Hagans after a flagrant and three technical founds were called, giving the Wildcats a 33-21 lead with 6:12 remaining in the half.
Kentucky pushed its lead out to 46-34 at halftime, led by Herro with 10 points.
The Wildcats pressured Texas A&M into 12 first-half turnovers, but the Aggies stayed in the game on outside shooting. Wendell Mitchell hit two of his three 3-point attempts, and Texas A&M hit 4 of 8 from beyond the line in the half.
Overall, Herro paced Kentucky with 21 points. Hagans added a season-high 18, and Quickley had 10. Keldon Johnson pulled down six rebounds, and Hagans had five steals.
Kentucky shot 51.8 percent from the field (29 of 56) while the Aggies hit 48.2 percent (27 of 56). Texas A&M outrebounded Kentucky 31-28 but turned the ball over 19 times to 12 for the Wildcats.
Chandler and TJ Sparks both scored 18 points to lead Texas A&M.
Kentucky continues its homestand when Vanderbilt visits Saturday night. Texas A&M travels to Alabama.
—Field Level Media